A grasshopper explains why the ants voted for Trump

The latest Harvard Business Review Ideacast (i.e. podcast) features a college professor explaining why she thinks Trump won.

Here’s here take (emphasis added):

The fact is the Democrats almost won. That’s important to keep in mind. But, one of the key reasons they lost is what I call class cluelessness. That among American progressives there has been a very, very insistent focus on the poor, on gender, on race but there has not been a focus on the white working class. That’s the group that in some ways, by some analyses, delivered this election to Trump.

The white working class, it’s very well documented, over decades of studies resents professionals but admires the rich. They feel the people who are more educated are often looking down on them, feel superior to them and I must say, that Hillary’s “deplorables” comment seemed to confirm their worst fears as did Obama’s early comment about some people clinging to their religion and guns.

I don’t really fault these two candidates. I fault the environment that both of them grew out of, which while it has been exquisitely attuned to racial and gender disadvantage, sometime has really been tone deaf to class disadvantage.

This kindles an image in my head of couple old fuddy-duddies trying to explain how kids act these days through the filter of what things were like when they were kids.

Of course she doesn’t fault Clinton and Obama for looking down on the working class, because she interprets the election through the filter of the same ‘environment’ that she says ‘they grew out of’.

As I listened to the podcast, I got the sense that she looks down on them, too.

She thinks in terms of ‘advantages’ and ‘disadvantages’ to classes of people and how the government can balance those out.

The “working class”doesn’t think her way.

The working class judge people on their character, work ethic and spunk, not on their class identifiers.

They understand life isn’t fair. They also understand that government attempts to fix that unfairness don’t actually fix it, rather it shifts the unfairness or causes more.

They know excuses make it too easy to stop trying and fosters victim mentality for people who are capable. They believe the individual is best capable of fighting and overcoming the fairness they each face.

They know people from all walks for life who have made it. They know the best way to become successful is to encourage the values above and avoid excuses. They know how empowering that is.

They resent professionals because professionals LOOK DOWN ON THEM, like the grasshoppers looked down on the ants in Aesop’s classic fable. They thought the ants were silly for working hard and to prepare for the unfairness of the impending winter.

But, then wanted the ants to bail them out.

They also feel many professionals simply haven’t earned the right to be so judgemental of others and to opine so arrogantly on things they have so little stake in.

The ants don’t so much admire the rich in way grasshoppers think. They admire that many earned their wealth with the above values and by taking some gut wrenching risk-taking along the way.

They realize that many are wealthy because they have created things that have made all of us better off. And, they think it’s prudent to keep the incentives in place to encourage people to take those risks so we can keep getting more stuff.

That’s one reason they admire (or maybe tolerate?) Trump. They see him as self-made. Did he have a big loan from Pops? Sure. Despite the grasshoppers’ attempts to use that to discredit the self-made story, the ants didn’t buy it. Why? Because lots of people get loans from pops and blow it. Trump didn’t.

One thing I agreed with this college professor about is Hillary’s ‘deplorables’ comment. That was a glass-shattering moment (How I Met Your Mother TV show reference).

Before that the ants were paying about the same attention to this election as any other.

At that moment they realized — Oh. I see. They think we’re idiots. Sound of glass shattering.

After that, every smug  commentary, unbalanced, hyped news report, crying wolf, condescension from the media, Hollywood and the political class — both left and right — was seen in the newly cleared up world where the ants were no longer oblivious to what the grasshoppers really thought of them.

Make no mistake. They really do think we’re idiots. How about that. 

In my oversimplified explanation of the election results, what I saw wasn’t so much a vote for Trump.

Rather a message sent to both Republicans and Democrats of a desire to return to some basic principles of hard work and taking pride in earning it.



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